MSA to the Rescue?

The Michigan Snowmobile Association has recently announced and decided the Off Road Vehicle (ORV) community of Michigan needs their help!
Well some of them at least motorcycles and full size jeep and crawlers are not included in this structural change of their organization, only the Side by Sides and the ATV would be included thus dividing the ORV user groups, this is in direct conflict of the definition of ORV in the State Laws. This does NOT UNITE them as MSA suggest in their announcements.

Michigan’s Trail system

The state of Michigan has a long history of both ORV and Snowmobile trails.
Both systems are totally user group funded and administered by the State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources Park and Recreation division.

  • The Snowmobile program is open from Dec 1 to March 31, offering the users approximately 6500 miles of designated trail, multiple city and county roads.
  • Their system is maintained and groomed by Volunteer Organizations that receive Grant dollars administered by the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division
  • The Off Road Vehicle Program is open 12 months, offering the users approximately 3800 miles of Designated Trail, ORV Riding Parks, thousands of miles of Forest roads and open county roads to obtain food fuel and lodging.
  • Their system is maintained and graded by Volunteer Organizations that receive Grant dollars administered by the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division
  • In 2018 the Snowmobile sold 141,850 permits for 6.6 million dollar revenue.
  • In 2018 the ORV sold240,643 Licenses and 183,779 Trail Permits for 8.0 million dollar revenue.
  • MSA provides legislative oversight by having a full time paid lobbyist for the Federal and State issues.
  • The ORV group provides legislative oversight through grass root volunteers, the American Motorcyclist Association both on the Federal side and the State side through the AMA District 14 and The Cycle Conservation Club

Seems that the programs are very similar in operation and design, both are user paid for, both have great trail, so why the push to help organize the ORV users now?


Or the lack of Snow that is!
The snow we used to have in Michigan has diminished in amounts and duration, thus limiting the Snowmobile system and the amount of time to ride in their season.
This leads to less riding opportunity and less snowmobile registrations and permit sales meaning there is less revenue to support the system and equipment needed to maintain the trail.
Snowmobile trails are kept smooth by using trail groomers, large, expensive equipment (around $280,000 per unit). These are paid for and repaired and maintained from your permit dollars.
The Snowmobile trail system operates on 50% State owned land and 50% private property of which some are leased or have paid easements to use for the season.
All of this amounts to millions of dollars of responsibility.

Snowmobile and ORV’s

Now due to limited resources the Michigan trail systems try to have as many trails operated by the State to be Multi Use trail allowing more than 1 type of recreation to use, and the ORV’s and Snowmobile do share somewhere around 800 miles of “Shared” trail.
Over the years the 2 groups have been at odds about maintenance responsibility and costs.
Some of the Snowmobile clubs use the snowmobile equipment to grade some of the wide route style trail that we use.

The ORV program, pays for equipment used for combined ORV Route/Snowmobile trail Grading using Snowmobile program purchased equipment through a couple of different methods. These grants from the ORV program include all the cost involved to cover rental of equipment, maintenance, fuel and labor cost. TheORV program does not allow for the purchase of this equipment as the Snowmobile program can.
This has been a long standing issue as the Snowmobile program would like the ORV program to pay for the equipment during the Off Season, but ORV legislation doesn’t provide a way to do this.
The ORV user groups have fought against this proposal for years in joint ORVAW (Off Road Vehicle Advisory Workgroup) and SAW (Snowmobile Work Group) meetings

What’s it means to you as an ORV user?

What does the MSA becoming the Michigan Snowmobile and Off Road Vehicle Association mean to you?

From MISORVA website;

“By joining the forces of both snowmobilers and ORV riders, we will have greater legislative power. MISORVA will be your voice in Lansing, monitoring regulations and proposed legislation that will affect motorized recreation. Make no mistake, without MISORVA’s involvement, continued monitoring and influence, you will not have the trail system we have today!
To further your voice in Lansing, MI-SORVA will have a full-time legislative consultant and a full-time office staff, all working on snowmobile/ORV-related issues; both locally and statewide.”

But MISORVA goes on to point out;
“This does not mean that we will quit trying to keep wheeled vehicles off our trails during the snowmobile season. We will stick with our snowmobile legislative agenda.”

By “Joining Forces” it would appear that Part of the ORV users ( Side by Sides and ATV ) would be asked to give up their rights to ride trail designated as Multi use as described and or legislated by the MISORVA, as they are asking for no ORV riding from December 1st – March 31st .

“MSA is working with a few legislators to change the law, so that only snowmobiles will be allowed on the trails from Dec 1 Through March 31.”

Further from the MSA Website

“As MI-SORVA, we will now work with the ORV community on the changes they would like to their program! To take a look at their law and how their program funds are distributed. We will work closely with them legislatively. We also need to take a look at providing a place for their funds to be distributed as grants to ORV clubs — grants that would allow those ORV clubs to maintain the trails and groom them. Yes, I said groom. That’s how they take out all of those moguls. There will be a lot to look at. There are ORV funds available that could be used to reimburse snowmobile grant sponsors for use of any of their equipment. We would be working together to make motorized recreation the best it can be in Michigan.”

This sound less like “Joining Forces” and” Helping” ORV”s and more like a Power move and money grab!
There are NO “ORV funds available that could be used to reimburse snowmobile grant sponsors” as the ORV Program spends their dollars per Legislated formula to administer the ORV program, there is not a Surplus of funds.
This “Joining of forces” will inevitably cost the ORV users in loss of dollars and higher Permit fees

The Great Divide

The ORV system in Michigan is the finest in the Country, is there room for improvement? Of course.
Over the last decade all forms of ORV’s have come together to support each type of trail that we currently use in Michigan.
We have had a united stance for our system.
By excluding several types of ORV machines and users, MISORVA looks to divide us by separating our groups and diminishing our common goals.
Helping the ORV’s…….

Sounds like MSA or MISORV is helping itself to your trail usage and dollars.

Thomas Dunn
AMA District 14 President